Bucks in Rut
If you have goats, you know the smell of a buck in rut. It is the odor that gave Billy Goat his stinky reputation. For the first time since we started raising goats four years ago, our neighbors adjacent to the barn sit on their deck and hope a breeze will blow Moores Pond Farm’s buckiness away from their end-of-summer barbeque parties.
We had planned to have all the bucks sold or neutered by now, but here we are with three prize animals that are eager to share their exceptional genetics with whole herds of does. We are hoping to find new homes for them soon, as fall is the mating season, and we only have one doe that isn’t closely related to all three of them. Goats do have a few taboos (eating off the ground, for example, is not kosher), but incest is not among them, so Chuck is reinforcing the buck pen (AKA the baby yard) with electric wires.
Meanwhile, we are observing the transformation of our sweet little bucklings into hormone-driven macho-guys. They are still sweethearts, but we are less inclined to hug them after they have peed on their beards. New sounds, something like hogs snorting, signal their pleasure as they attack the grain trough for their evening meal, even though their appetite for food has decreased in direct proportion to the increase in their craving for sex.
And is it my imagination, or have their bodies changed dramatically in the last week? Necks have thickened, and curly tufts of hair camouflage the stubs where their horns were disbudded. They strut and swagger as they pace back and forth along the section of fence that segregates them from their mothers, sisters, aunts and cousins. The slightest whiff of doe has them grunting and sticking their tongues out like snakes.The hair on their spines looks like it was brushed up into a chic spiky dinosaur fashion. A recent visitor looked at the large bulbous sac hanging from between one buck’s rear legs and wanted to know where the milk comes out. We laughed to think of it as a very poorly attached udder.
Until our boys move on, we are learning interesting things about buck behavior. I suspect they will let us know when a doe comes in heat. They have been trying to hump each other since they were born: now they are all over each other with affection. I hope they don’t fight.
Oh, I need a bath, you say? Really? I smell like a what? Really? …Well, I guess bucks are a lot like farts: they don’t seem nearly so stinky when they are your own.